Reading inbox-outbox: Week of 14 September

I’ve got eleven books left on my 2015 TBR, plus two that are in-progress and temporarily abandoned for shinier objects. That means I need to finish a book a week just to get through this batch before the end of the year. Not all of them are backlist. Most are needed to finish the Book Riot Read Harder Challenge. And a few are pre-orders that I am eagerly awaiting, but that haven’t been released yet. Still, predictably, what I “have to” read is different than what I want to read.

Inbox (books acquired)

  • Serpentine by by Cindy Pon (Kindle) — This book was just released last week, but I’ve had it on my wish list since June of last year. I can’t remember where I first saw it, but I was immediately drawn to it because it’s YA fantasy set in ancient China. That’s a genre kryptonite thing for me and it’s not something you see very often. At the time I added it, there was no Kindle offering. But now there is and it’s less than $5. So, I snapped it up. Bonus: this book has lending enabled! Hooray!
  • Radiance (Wraith Kings Book 1) by by Grace Draven (Kindle) — I found this when I went looking for a fast and fun romance set in a fantasy world. After combing through pages and pages of ebooks on Amazon and sampling the first chapters of several that seemed promising, this one grabbed me and sucked me in. It has a little Beauty and the Beast flavor to it, but I wouldn’t go so far as to call it a re-telling of the fairy tale. And it appears to be self-published. But, I’ll hand it to the editors (I know she had some because she names them in the by-line), this does NOT read like many of the self-published books I’ve tried. More below…

Outbox (books finished)

  • A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray (Kindle) — This hit quite a few of my genre kryptonite buttons: boarding school, feisty heroine, magic… But it ultimately fell a little short for me. I liked it. The characters were fun and full of life. I just felt like some of the plot turns were disappointing. There were places where I expected more (like the role of the Huntress, the rune stones, how the friendships ultimately play out, the romantic interest, the engagement, etc.), and they all either resolved too quickly, in a less than satisfying way, or not at all. The plot choice leading up to the resolution felt especially disappointing to me (I would expand on this, but I’m trying to avoid spoilers…). Overall, it felt like Gemma spent too much time trying to decide what she wanted to do with her powers and not enough time exploring them, understanding the new world, and solving the mystery behind her mother’s death.
  • Radiance (Wraith Kings Book 1) by by Grace Draven (Kindle) — This was a very fast read. The romance is done really well. The story features two strangers, both equally physically unattractive to the other, forced into an arranged marriage for political gain. Against the odds, they bond based on an initial respect for each other that builds to friendship and eventually to love. It avoids a lot of the fantasy romance tropes that annoy me (like insta-love, love triangles, and romantic plots that rely on miscommunication to cause “tension”). The author pulls off a pretty hot enemies-to-lovers, slow-burn romance that actually has pretty solid fantasy world-building and a non-romantic plot that mostly works to drive the action forward. I liked it. I’ll probably check out the next in the series when it comes out.

Queue (what I’m reading next)

  • I want to finish the two books I have temporarily abandoned: Thinking Fast and Slow and Between the World and Me, but I really don’t feel like reading non-fiction right now…
  • So, I may start one of the two YA fantasy books that I purchased back in March/April: Snow Like Ashes or An Ember in the Ashes … I have been holding off on reading these because I was trying to avoid reading anything that sounded too similar to my in-progress novel while I was working on finishing it…
  • Or, I may read My Brilliant Friend and hold off a little longer on the YA fantasy novels…

That’s what’s going on in my reading world this week… Hope you had a great weekend and have something excellent to read!